We are all modernists now

18 01 2019

This OnePeterFive article caught my eye because it reminded me that Pierre Teilhard de Chardin exists. Mainly I think of Teilhard as a bad memory recalled during the hangover over what was the 20th century. The man represented an optimism and naive belief in science that few share now. Ask anyone now if humanity is processing to an Omega Point and you would probably just receive a blank stare.

The other aspect of the article that I disagree with is the idea that Teilhard was unique in talking out of both sides of his mouth, namely, saying things in an ambiguous way that could be interpreted as orthodox, and then asserting that they are orthodox when pressed. Most of the heroes even of “conservative Catholics” did that, from Hans Urs Von Balthasar to Yves Congar (who famously relieved himself outside the building of the Holy Office, which not even Teilhard did, I believe). One accusation of the article was that Teilhard discarded the supernatural, but he wasn’t the only Jesuit to do so. While Humani Generis may have been directed at Teilhard, it was also directed I believe at Henri de Lubac, later Henri Cardinal de Lubac, who believed the supernatural was the creation of decadent Thomists during the Counter-Reformation. Of course, the article mentions only in passing the praise of the Pope Emeritus for Teilhard, which sort of throws a wrench in the whole “Jesuit conspiracy” tie between Pope Francis and the controversial theologian.

At the risk of repeating myself, I have believed for a while that Catholicism is entirely too much of a “man-centered” religion to begin with. Maybe we lost the language of Faith a long time ago, but quibbles over doctrine now seem to be an exercise in public relations and political maneuvering, and that’s about it. The OnePeterFive article under-emphasizes that the rehabilitation of Teilhard has been happening for decades, and it isn’t even news really.  As I’ve discussed recently, being Catholic in 2018 is an exercise in “How far back do you want to forget?” But the question then sort of becomes: Is there anything left to remember?